Taster’s Choice: Canned chicken

A convenient item for quick meals.
Published February 5

Buying chicken in a can never occurred to me until a friend passed along a recipe years ago for “homemade” chicken pot pie. I think she tore it out of a magazine offering last-minute dinner suggestions for busy parents. The recipe could be made in an hour with pantry staples. Admittedly, I haven’t bought canned chicken since I tried that recipe, but our tasters say they stock up on the convenience food for quick meals and especially for their hurricane kits. They must not be alone because we found 10 brands of canned, water-packed, white chicken for this sampling. One brand was available in an airtight pouch.

Market Pantry / 79

Serving size: 2 ounces

Calories: 50

Fat/fiber: 1g / 0g

Sugar/sodium: 0g / 260mg

Carbs/protein: 0g / 8g

Judges’ comments: Target’s brand of canned chicken impressed judges for its “shredability.” A couple said it would be perfect on tacos or in a Mexican dish. “It has a very fresh chicken flavor,” said one judge. “This is tender and juicy with nice chunks,” said another judge. “It doesn’t need to be camouflaged with lots of filler.” A couple said it would be great for a quick chicken salad or convenient for camping.

Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: 99 cents for a 5-ounce can from Target.

Great Value / 73

Serving size: 2 ounces

Calories: 90

Fat/fiber: 1g / 0g

Sugar/sodium: 0g / 230mg

Carbs/protein: 1g / 12g

Judges’ comments: The breast meat in this sample of Walmart’s chicken was firm and tasty, according to our judges. They liked the larger chunks of meat and the good balance of salt. “It would be great on a taco salad or anything that doesn’t need disguising,” said one panelist. Another said, “I would use these in a quesadilla with Monterey Jack cheese.” One said it was the “most whole-looking,” saying “it looks like a whole poached chicken breast.”

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $2.57 for a 12.5-ounce can from Walmart.

Swanson / 70

Serving size: 3 ounces

Calories: 80

Fat/fiber: 1.5g / 0g

Sugar/sodium: 0g / 390mg

Carbs/protein: 0g / 15g

Judges’ comments: Swanson’s canned chicken was appealing for its moist texture and taste, although a couple of judges turned their noses up at the watery appearance of the meat. “It really tastes pretty good,” said one panelist, adding, “Bring on the mayo and relish and slap this on some toast.” Another said it would be great for her chicken tortilla soup because of the juiciness of the meat.

Would they buy? Two of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $3.89 for a 12.5-ounce can from Publix.

Also sampled: SE Grocers ($2.49 for a 10-ounce can from Winn-Dixie, 60 points); Hormel ($2.79 for a 10-ounce can from Publix, 57 points); Sweet Sue ($2 for a 3-ounce pouch from Publix, 57 points); Bumble Bee ($3.39 for a 10-ounce can from Publix, 50 points); Trader Joe’s ($3.29 for a 12.5-ounce can, 45 points); Publix ($2.39 for a 10-ounce can, 40 points); and Tyson ($3.99 for a 12.5-ounce can from Publix, 40 points).

Panelists: Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; Kay Studer, personal chef; Elaine Cloud Goller, writer, director, performer and Realtor; and Laura Reiley, former Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

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